Montreal– At today’s meeting of the Atlantic Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers (ACFAM), Ministers focused on their common goal of sustainable, economically viable, and internationally competitive fishing and aquaculture sectors. The meeting was co-chaired by the Honourable Loyola Hearn federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable Rick Doucet, New Brunswick Minister of Fisheries and the Honourable Ron Ouellette, New Brunswick Minister of Agriculture and Aquaculture.
“I’m happy that we were able to come together to discuss common priorities before the start of this year’s fishing season,” said Minister Hearn. “It’s our duty to develop modern and innovative solutions to the common viability challenges facing our fisheries.”
”Minister Ouellette and I are pleased to serve as provincial co-chairs of the Council in 2008,” said Minister Doucet. “We look forward to working with our colleagues to support the long-term sustainability of our fisheries and aquaculture sectors.”
“Enhancing these sectors is essential to New Brunswick as we move toward meeting our goal of self-sufficiency,” said Minister Ouellette. “And as a region, we must continually explore ways to work cooperatively in order to compete in the global marketplace.”
At the last ACFAM meeting in November, Ministers established a federal-provincial-territorial marketing work group. The group, which is led by the Province of Quebec, brings together fish management and marketing experts to explore opportunities for strategic marketing of Atlantic seafood products. A representative from the Quebec delegation provided Ministers with an overview of work to date, including their workplan for the coming months and early actions to be initiated.
Ministers discussed ongoing negotiations at the World Trade Organization as they relate to fisheries subsidies. Ministers stressed the importance of this issue, and of information-sharing and monitoring as the negotiations move forward.
Ministers also considered ways to further engage participants in the Oceans to Plate Strategy to improve the sustainable use, competitiveness and long-term economic viability of the seafood industry. Ministers are confident that this more holistic approach to managing the fishery will help make Canada more competitive in the global seafood market.
Furthermore, Ministers agreed that economic viability for communities in coastal Canada requires an integrated focus on both wild and farmed seafood.
On aquaculture, Provincial Ministers agreed with their federal colleague that collaborative work needs to continue to enhance cooperative initiatives that meet the objectives of each jurisdiction’s development. These efforts are necessary in order to increase the competitiveness of the aquaculture sector of Atlantic Canada.
Ministers also discussed their upcoming mission to Chile, including opportunities to work with the Chilean government, academic community and producers. Ministers agreed that closer collaboration with like-minded countries such as Chile has the potential of creating important strategic advantages for Canadian producers.
Following a presentation on the Canadian sealing industry, Ministers agreed to continue to promote and to support the sustainable seal harvest. All Ministers are committed to presenting a united front in support of this important industry, domestically and on the international stage. The sealing industry continues to provide important economic benefits to rural Canadians throughout Atlantic and Northern Canada.
Ministers were presented with an overview of the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP). The Government of Canada is committed to working with industry, provincial governments and other stakeholders to increase the effectiveness of the CSSP.
Minister Hearn went on to thank his colleagues for their ongoing support in his government’s efforts to modernize the 140 year old Fisheries Act and took the opportunity to present his colleagues with an update on the legislation and to answer their questions.
“Economic viability will be best served with a new Fisheries Act that speaks to clear conservation frameworks and open and transparent processes,” reiterated Minister Hearn.
The ACFAM is made up of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers from the Atlantic Provinces, Quebec, Nunavut and the federal government. The next ACFAM meeting will be in September in New Brunswick.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada